City Council passes policy aimed at attracting new businesses

Monday, March 1, 2010 | 10:21 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A policy to provide an incentive for large businesses to set up in Columbia passed at Monday's City Council meeting.

Called a "unique opportunity" for Columbia by several people, the policy will offer consumers of large amounts of electricity a partial reimbursement for infrastructure improvements to their businesses. These consumers are defined as businesses that consume 10 or more megawatts.

Reimbursing infrastructure improvements for things such as electric and water lines might encourage more large businesses to establish in Columbia because their startup costs would be reduced.

A electric utility tax paid by the customer, roughly 7.5 percent of its total power cost, would be collected over time, and up to 50 percent of this would be reimbursed.

The reimbursements would come from city revenue, so the policy wouldn't directly affect taxpayers.

There are no large companies ready to develop in Columbia, but it is likely there will be some in the future, City Manager Bill Watkins said.

Each improvement would require approval from the council before construction.

The council approved the policy 6-0. Mayor Darwin Hindman was absent.

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Scott Wendling March 1, 2010 | 10:38 p.m.

This is perfect timing in conjunction with the run at the Google Fiber Optic program. Attracting tech companies would be simply huge for Columbia.

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